I didn’t get scared until I saw just how much blood it was. Big drops all over the top of the small table and a large clump leaves. The ground around the table was splattered in crimson dotted leaves. All but the deep spots were dried up but it was a hot day today and they could have dried pretty quickly. We had been walking around my Nan’s yard for at least fifteen minutes by now but she hadn’t yet come out to see my father and I. I hadn’t walked around the front of the house to see if her car was there but it wasn’t in the driveway around back of her corner lot.
My father noticed it first. He was so excited to show me the table he had placed in front of the toolshed that he wanted to give for my garage. “Shit, does that look like blood to you?” he said as I walked closer.
“I’ve never really seen blood this dried out but it sure looks like blood to me.” I looked closer and closer at the table before inspecting the ground around its legs. There was more than I thought.
” I hope my Mom didn’t cut herself. I’m gonna get my keys and head inside. Don’t touch any of this stuff. Leave it all just the way it is now.” He backed away and headed for the van. “Hopefully there’s some coffee on.” he called back but it sounded like he was just trying to keep me (and maybe a bit of himself) calm.
He ran inside and I looked for a trail of drops leading away from the table. Nothing. The drops seemed to come from straight up. No direction as if someone were swinging a cut hand. Perfect little circles of dark red. It just seemed so strange to see so much blood in one little spot but not anywhere else. I didn’t want my father to know it but I was beginning to get very scared that something had happened here. The longer it took him to “get his coffee” the more afraid I became.
“Hey Eric, there is a pot of coffee in there if you want to grab a cup.” Dad said calmly as he came out through the back sliding glass doors.
“Nan home?” I said in the most nonchalant voice I could muster.
“No, there’s no one home but everything looks fine in there.” He said looking at the ground as he came towards me. He stopped over a bowl on the ground and said “but now I’m seeing this here.”
I walked towards the small cereal bowl on the ground and could see that it was filled with a red chunk of something and had some thick red liquid smeared allover its sides. “What the hell is that?” I said just before getting close enough to see that it was a meatball covered in marinara sauce. Dad’s sister liked to feed the neighborhood animals. I suppose she meant it to be for the cats that lived on the block but it attracted all kinds of course.
“Something could have eaten that and climbed into that tree and shit it out all over there.” he said but I think we both new this didn’t look like any kind of animal waste we had ever seen. Marinara sauce or no. “I’m sure everything’s fine. Let’s unload the van.” We opened the van and brought one heavy load to the bike shed in the corner of the yard. Not being able to help ourselves we wandered back over to the table to get to the bottom of this. “It doesn’t make much sense for it to come from straight up. The drips on the sides of the table were long and thin. It was on all four sides. Surely unless someone was standing on the tabletop at the time it couldn’t have come from someone cutting themselves.
“You know what? I think it was probably a hawk or something up in the top of the tree eating something. A bird, squirrel, anything really. There’s been a peregrine falcon flying around here this summer.” We were both craning our necks to look straight up to see the criss-cross of branches above us. “Now we just have to find some feathers around here and we’ll know.”
Made perfect sense to me so we started looking around for feathers but didn’t find a one. I started to feel better. There had to be a reasonable explanation for this but you never could tell with Nan. She wasn’t one to let you know if she was sick or in pain. Letting other people know, even the ones who helped care for her, would be an imposition. I walked round the table and between it and the tool shed when it hit me. There’s blood everywhere on the ground except for under the roof overhang of the shed. It was then easy to tell that the blood had to come from higher than that. Nan is spry for her age but with two artificial knees and one artificial hip she’s not climbing any trees. Even if they are titanium.
My mind set at ease we got back to work and finished the unloading of the van. We got to my house a little while later and started telling my wife what happened. My father was so excited to tell her since she is such a fan of true crime documentary TV. No CSI I for her but a steady diet of Forensic Files, The First 48, Cold Case Files, and American Justice, makes Karin a self-proclaimed crime scene evidence expert. When she heard about the long straight up and down drips on the side of the table she quickly exclaimed “That must have come from very high up, there’s no way it had anything to do with Nan.” Apparently it had cleared some guy of his wife’s murder and Karin was adamant that even though we haven’t yet seen her Nan was fine and not without a significant amount of blood.
“I still wish we had found some feather’s so we could be sure.” Dad said. He didn’t look worried but there was something unfamiliar in his voice when he said it. And it wasn’t until then that I realized why we didn’t
“Well that’s easy to explain,” I said “blood will fall straight down of course . . .” It’s not every day that I get to ease my father’s worry by figuring something out before him. He’s a pretty clever fellow.
“. . . but feathers drift.” I made a wavy motion with my hands implying feathers floating in a breeze.
“Well Shit. Why the hell didn’t I think of that.” He said with a smile.
We let my wife get back to washing the dishes as we spent the gorgeous day doing work on the outside of my house before winter comes. It turned out to be a really great day for me and the whole family but it started with a jolt of worry and concern. Fear mixed with intrigue and puzzlement. My Nan is fine of course but I didn’t find that out until the evening. We still don’t know exactly where the blood came from but we have a pretty good idea and I don’t want to know the real explanation if it means that we’re wrong.
Update: This story is how I started my thursday. I wrote it up that night to post but Blogger went down while I tried to post. I haven’t had the time to post since and so here it is being posted on a saturday night.